KEYSER – Whether or not wind power is economical or useful is not important to the public nuisance case that has been filed against NedPower by a number of Grant County residents.
Furthermore, it will not be allowed as a part of future arguments in court.
Circuit Court Judge Phil Jordan on Tuesday told attorney Richard Neely, representing the residents, that to allow arguments as to the social value or economic worth of wind power would amount to “heading off on a tangent that would be costly in terms of the court’s time, your time and your clients’ resources.”
The residents, who live in the Mount Storm area, are seeking an injunction to stop the construction of almost 200 wind turbines adjacent to the Dominion Mount Storm Power Plant. They claim the turbines would devalue their property and generally create a nuisance that would interfere with their quality of life.
The case, which began more than a year ago and has since been appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court, is back in the local venue after the Supreme Court upheld the plaintiff’s appeal.
Upon returning to court in Petersburg earlier this year, the attorneys for both sides began haggling over which information is pertinent to the case and which should be inadmissible to the proceedings.
While Neely has claimed that NedPower should provide information on tax incentives provided for constructing the wind turbines as well as information on how the turbines work, how much energy they produce and at what profit the energy will be sold, NedPower attorney A.L. Emch of Charleston said such information is “proprietary and private and has no relevance” to the case.
Jordan agreed with Emch, granting a protective order on each of the issues dealing with tax incentives, profits and other financial matters.
This left the attorneys with the main issue at question: Whether the presence of the wind turbines will constitute a nuisance to the property owners.
Noting that the Supreme Court had already “put to rest a lot of the concerns” as to the value of wind power, Neely said the high court also expressed that “you can have a right thing in a wrong place.”
He contends that Grant County is the wrong place.
“Our plaintiffs’ property is located in an area that’s best use is the location of second homes and retirement homes,” he said.
“It is an area where people can retreat from the horrors of the Northeast.”
The presence of the giant turbines will disturb the peace of the area, he said.
“These things cause (the plaintiffs) an enormous annoyance,” he said. “They make an enormous amount of noise … and it’s not a noise that you can get used to.”
Calling his clients “a group of landowners who are supported by … various organizations interested in preserving the beauty of the mountains,” Neely said the wind turbines will devalue that land.
He also questioned what, if anything, would become of the turbines once the tax credits have expired.
“What will happen to this $30 million of abandoned turbines?” he said.
Although no windmills had yet been constructed when the Grant County landowners started their case, several have already been erected and put into use.
When Jordan originally heard the case a year ago, he denied the plaintiffs’ request for relief.
Although no date has been set for the continuation of the case, both attorneys said they expect to begin taking depositions in the near future.
By Liz Beavers
21 November 2007
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